Autumn Food and Wine Pairings

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

If you’re a bit of a foodie, fall is likely your favorite season. Not only do you have Thanksgiving and Christmas to enjoy, but there are also a ton of fruits and vegetables that harvest in autumn, including wine grapes! While you’re enjoying nature’s bounty, why not make a great meal more amazing and pair it with the perfect wine?

Here are some of our favorite fall foods and a few awesome wines to pair them with.


Before pumpkin took over the world as THE fall flavor, there was the apple. You can get apples year-round, but they’re at their best in late summer and early fall, and there are several incredibly yummy varieties you can only get at this time of year.

Put some raw apple slices on a cheese plate and serve it with a fruity Gewürztraminer. Or, if candied apples and apple pie are more your style, search out a lovely, sweet Vouvray.


Thanks to pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin is as synonymous with fall as evergreens are with Christmas. You probably don’t want to drink wine with your PSL, but luckily that’s far from the only pumpkin-flavored treat to find this season. How about some lovely pumpkin pie, crunchy pumpkin seeds, or delish pumpkin-stuffed ravioli?

For salty snacks or savory pumpkin dishes such as pumpkin risotto, pumpkin soup or pumpkin ravioli go with an unoaked Chardonnay or a Viognier. For a pumpkin dessert, select a Riesling or sweet red. If it’s chilly outside and you’re curling up next to the fire with a super-rich pumpkin cheesecake, you might try a barrel-aged Port.


Pears are another popular fall fruit that can be enjoyed raw or transformed into a dreamy dessert. For example, check out America’s Test Kitchen recipe for roasted pears with apricots and pistachios, which would go perfectly with a glass of Sauternes, a French dessert wine with hints of honey, ginger, and lemon, and a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. A nice Riesling will do nicely if a Sauternes is out of reach.


Figs are simply gorgeous, and taste wonderful raw, in salads, roasted, or dried. Get your fancy on with a fig and goat cheese grilled pizza with arugula, or a fig tart. Or hey, if you’re feeling lazy, go for Fig Newtons! Figs are lovely with a Merlot, Pinot Noir or a Prosecco.

Venison or Other Wild Game

Fall means hunting season, and if you have a hunter in the family or are lucky enough to have a butcher who can get their hands on wild game, you’ll probably be looking at eating a venison stew or roast.

Because these meats tend to have a strong, rich flavor, you’ll want a big red with lots of tannin that will smooth out when paired with the richness of the meat. A Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy choice. A red Bordeaux would be a fantastic option; or if you want to impress, go Italian and pick up a Barbaresco or Barolo. If you don’t have access to wild game, these wines also work with lamb or beef stew.

Chile Peppers

If you live in the southwestern US, you probably associate fall with roasted chile peppers, which find their way into everything from the eponymous “chili,” to dips, sandwiches, enchiladas, and even mac and cheese!

Whether they’re Hatch green chiles or poblanos, the heat and spice of this regional fall treat can be hard to pair with wine, but not impossible. Go for a bold, spicy red that will match the chiles flavor for flavor, like a Syrah. Or cool the heat with a Malvasia Bianca.


Cultivated mushrooms are available year-round, of course, but the vast majority of wild mushrooms appear in the fall. Think chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, puff mushrooms, honey mushrooms, and hundreds of other varieties.

Whether you’re getting them from a farmer’s market or harvesting them yourself, they make a great snack grilled and layered on top of garlic toast, and are perfectly paired with a fresh, unoaked Chardonnay or a dry sparkling Champagne. Or, if you prefer reds, pair a Rioja or Pinot Noir with mushroom soup or mushroom risotto.

Sweet Potatoes

From mashed sweet potatoes, to fries and pies, it seems like sweet potato is everywhere in the fall. If enjoying it baked into a pie, like shepherd’s pie, pair it with a full-bodied red like Heart of the Desert’s Royal Zinphony—a zinfandel/cabernet sauvignon blend. For mashed sweet potatoes, a lighter red blend or Pinot Noir will do nicely. If baked into fries, go for a more acidic white wine like a white Burgundy.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash can take you to your happy place when it’s made into soup, or roasted and added to a yummy, comforting risotto. It’s so sweet and nutty!

Pair it with an Italian red like Dolcetto or go for a white bubbly and pick out a sweet Prosecco to match the sweetness of the squash and lighten up its heavier dishes.

Brussels Sprouts

It’s true that Brussels sprouts are the bane of many; but if you eat them when they’re fresh, in the fall, and properly cooked, you can enjoy the delicious nuttiness that makes them taste as close to candy as a green veggie can get.

You can prepare them a bunch of different ways, but two delicious options are shredded and sautéed, then topped with bacon crumbles and nuts; or roasted in a pan with brown butter and topped with goat cheese crumbles and a balsamic glaze, you can even add cranberries. Pair brussels sprouts with a Sauvignon Blanc that has plenty of herbal notes or even a Merlot.

Enjoy all of autumns bounty! Buy your produce fresh and enjoy making some delicious dishes with them.


Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.